Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players who fantasy managers in deeper leagues should consider picking up. Many of these players will have the most value in larger leagues where waiver wire options aren’t as plentiful. Still, they could also occasionally be useful additions in other, more standard-sized leagues depending on your options at their position.
All roster percentages mentioned in this column are via Yahoo fantasy leagues as of Friday afternoon.
Luis Campusano – 4%
Sometimes, a player is worth adding off waivers to fantasy rosters based on their production at the plate. Sometimes it’s the allure of consistent opportunity in the form of a regular spot in a quality lineup. Either outcome can make a player worth pursuing on waivers.
But when both boxes are ticked, the player becomes a must-add.
Which is exactly the case with Luis Campusano, especially this late in the year.
The 24-year-old is hitting .305 with a .343 on-base percentage and six home runs in 140 plate appearances for the National League West club in his first extended look in the majors. Before this season, the catcher had just 92 career major league plate appearances in parts of three seasons, never logging more than 50 in a single campaign.
Of course, Gary Sánchez landing on the injured list has certainly helped Campusano in terms of playing regularly, but the former top prospect has taken full advantage of the increase in playing time. In addition to strong average and on-base percentage metrics so far, he’s also striking out just 13.6% while providing quality contact metrics – most notably an 8.0% barrel rate and a .339 xwOBA.
But it’s not just the production.
After hitting almost exclusively seventh, eighth, or ninth through the beginning of September, Campusano has started to hit further and further up the order in San Diego.
*Appeared as a pinch-hitter.
Generally speaking, hitting in the middle of the order – or near it – tends to be a significant positive where fantasy upside is concerned as it usually means hitting after some combination of Juan Soto, Ha-Seong Kim, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts. Each of that group of five has been at least 13% better than the league average where wRC+ is concerned this year.
Campusano’s wRC+ so far this year? That would be 128. It’s still a smaller sample size, all things considered, but it’s been a promising season so far for the rookie. He looks like a must-add for catcher-needy teams down the stretch.
Jack Suwinski – 17%
Suwinski has decidedly much more value in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring, but if you can get by the lower batting average (it’s currently .218 in 474 plate appearances) and the rather high strikeout rate (it’s presently at 32.5%) there’s a lot to like here fantasy-wise, regardless of scoring format.
Moving past those two metrics, Suwinski is also sporting a .342 on-base percentage in the aforementioned 474 plate appearances, thanks in large part to a 14.8% walk rate. He’s also making all kinds of loud contact when he does put the ball in play, with a .352 xwOBA, a .471 xwOBAcon, a 17.6% barrel rate, and a 45.9% hard-hit rate.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given those numbers, the 25-year-old has collected 25 home runs so far.
Furthermore, Suwinski isn’t getting beaten consistently with stuff outside the zone despite the high strikeout rate. His 18.0% chase rate ranks in the 98th percentile league-wide.
In fact, speaking of percentile rankings, Suwinski has been very much above average in almost all hitting metrics outside of xBA, whiff rate, and strikeout rate.
The outfielder is also adding fantasy value on the basepaths. He’s stolen 12 bases this season, including four in the last three weeks.
Furthermore, Suwinski also seems to be heating up at the plate just in time for the fantasy playoffs. In addition to those four stolen bases in the last three weeks (since August 27th to be precise), the 25-year-old is also batting .327 with a .407 on-base percentage, four home runs, and the four stolen bases in his last 59 plate appearances.
It’s hard to find hitters with league-winning upside this late in the year, and that’s exactly what Suwinski is, what with his ability to contribute home runs, stolen bases, and plenty of quality contact.
Kirby Yates – 7%
Inadvertently sticking with baseball players who were part of the San Diego Padres organization during the 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons, we switch to Kirby Yates, who this year has logged the most innings (56.2) in a campaign since he logged 60.2 while with the Padres in 2019.
Overall, the veteran has logged a 2.70 ERA and a 4.42 FIP in those 56.2 innings spanning 57 appearances, striking out 76 batters and scattering 34 walks, eight home runs, and 31 hits allowed.
Yates has, for the most part, been elite at missing bats, with a 32.3% strikeout rate and a 31.4% whiff rate. The strikeout rate ranks in the 95th percentile. The whiff rate? The 85th percentile.
However, he’s also been decidedly not as effective at limiting walks, as well as surrendering loud contact. Among qualified relievers, only six have a higher walks per nine-inning rate than Yates’ 5.40 metric. Among the same group of relievers, the Atlanta hurler also had the 13th-highest barrel rate allowed at 9.9%.
However, despite all the walks and barrels allowed, the key bit here fantasy-wise is that Yates has seemingly established himself as the preferred ninth-inning option when closer Raisel Iglesias isn’t available.
Of Atlanta’s 18 second-half saves, Yates has four to Iglesias’ 13. The duo are the only relievers on the National League East squad with multiple saves this month. In fact, Brad Hand, with one save, is the only other Atlanta pitcher to log a save in the second half.
In fact, three of Yates’ four second-half saves have come this month. That includes a save in each of his last two outings as well. Iglesias is very much still entrenched as the closer in Atlanta, but Yates makes for a quality ancillary saves option down the stretch. For fantasy managers in desperate need of saves, he’s a solid addition.
Noelvi Marte – 10%
Marte was mentioned in this column late last month for his upside at the plate and the instant impact he was making on the bases.
A few weeks on, the same is still very much true.
Marte is hitting .279 this season with a .347 on-base percentage, a home run, and six stolen bases in his first 75 career Major League plate appearances.
It’s still a tiny sample size, but there’s plenty to like with Marte’s upside.
What has changed, at least from a fantasy standpoint, is that the Reds will finally be back from the road starting next week. Or, in other words, right in time for key fantasy playoff matchups.
The Reds have been on the road for the last week, playing three games in Detroit against the Tigers before starting a three-game set in New York versus the Mets on Friday.
Monday sees the National League Central club return home for their last homestand of the season for separate three-game series against the Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates. And while it’s only six games, chasing the right matchups at this time of year can make all the difference in the right scenarios.
And starting Noelvi Marte at home is very much the right matchup.
It’s still an incredibly small sample size that’s coming incredibly early in Marte’s career, but the infielder has (unsurprisingly) thrived at Great American Ballpark so far.
And even though three of the Reds’ last six home games are against a Twins pitching staff with the third-lowest collective FIP in the league, Minnesota is much more middle of the pack in terms of home runs allowed per nine innings (1.25, 14th) on the road this season, which should only help the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Great American Ball Park, it should be noted, has the highest park factor in terms of home runs in the last three seasons, per Statcast.
Matchups aside though, Marte is a must-start for fantasy managers in deeper leagues this coming week, especially considering he’s eligible at both third base and shortstop in Yahoo leagues.
Graphic adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)